Kansas will receive about $45,000 of a $3 million, multi-state settlement with Vonage, a company that provides voice-over-Internet phone service, Attorney General Steve Six announced Monday.
Attorneys general from 32 states had alleged that Vonage, one of the nation’s largest providers of Internet phone service, violated consumer-protection laws.
Vonage denied any violations.
The states had alleged that customers received unexpected and nonrefundable charges after signing up for “free trial” offers with Vonage.
In addition, the states claimed the company’s lack of adequate customer service and paying bonuses to employees who “retained” a customer made it difficult to impossible for consumers to cancel service within their trial period.
“The States have received numerous complaints from consumers who have claimed difficulty in attempting to cancel their VONAGE services,” the settlement said. “For example, some consumers state that they have had to wait for a long period of time in order to talk to a customer-service representative. Other consumers state that they have contacted VONAGE by phone and cancelled their service, and yet subsequently received a monthly bill from VONAGE or had funds deducted from their bank accounts.”
Vonage denied all the claims against the company and said management believed that all the conditions of service had been adequately disclosed in its advertising.
“Vonage also believes that it has promptly and properly handled valid customer cancellation requests and properly discontinued billing after receipt of valid cancellation requests,” the settlement said.
However, Vonage agreed to settle the case “so that this matter may be resolved amicably, without further cost or inconvenience to the participating states, their citizens or Vonage, and to avoid the cost and inconvenience to Vonage that will result if the participating states subject Vonage to different advertising and business requirements in each participating state.”
The company agreed to comply with a long list of conditions in its advertising and billing practices and to provide adequate staffing so that customers calling the company are not subjected to long waiting times.
Kansas’ share of the settlement will be used for consumer restitution, enforcement of the state Consumer Protection Act and consumer-education efforts.
“I am pleased Vonage will provide restitution to consumers and improve the level of service provided to Kansas consumers,” Six said. “My office will continue to work with other states to protect consumers.”